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blood donor recruiting

While on the phones, it’s very easy to be distracted because there is a lot of multitasking that goes into being a Conversational Marketing Expert (CME). However, as a CME, one of your main jobs is to actively listen to what the donor is saying to you. You cannot have a productive conversation with the donor unless you listen to their side of the story. Without listening, you are not having a conversation; you are talking at the donor.

When the donor is speaking to you, it gives you a chance to use active listening to find the tone of their voice and recognize how they are feeling. By determining what tone they have with you, you are able to match it. If the donor is upset or angry, you want to sound calming; if the donor is bubbly and excited, you want to match their excitement. Oftentimes, people make the mistake of not matching the donor’s tone, and it can be a killer to the call. For instance, if a CME sounds too excited and shrill and the donor on the other end sounds sad, the donor would be more likely to hang up.

It is also important to use active listening to truly understand why the donor is either motivated or unmotivated to make a donation. Being a CME can be a difficult task at times because you are busy trying to be one step ahead of the donor. However, if you don’t listen to what the donor is telling you, the way you respond to them could give them a negative view of the donor center, and they might feel like you don’t really care about what they are saying. We want the donors to know that we care about them, so when they are explaining a situation to you, take a moment to truly listen to what they are saying so that you are able to converse with them and give them a genuine response.

Using active listening from the very beginning of a call may be difficult because being a CME means doing a lot of multitasking, but being a Conversational Marketing Expert (CME) also means that we need to have productive conversations that drive meaningful results. Having a productive conversation means listening to the needs and concerns of our donors. If you do not use your active listening skills you could give the donors the wrong impression and, in turn, lose an appointment. So always take the time to pay attention!

How else do you use active listening skills in your blood donor recruitment calls?

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Strategy + Change = HELP!!!

Most of us know that the key to a successful strategy is to stick to it. But how do we stick to a strategy when our industry is changing every day? For years we’ve battled with never having enough inventory. Then the industry had a surplus. Now we find ourselves attempting to react to both problems, often in the same month! How do we, as organizational leaders, create a strategy to recruit donors that is cost-effective, flexible to our changing needs, and stable enough to keep us moving forward in the future?

During Billie’s session, she will discuss what components of blood center strategy need to be evaluated, how to incorporate goals and accountability, how to build a self-correcting reporting system, how to evaluate outcomes, and how to incorporate innovation to ensure a successful today and tomorrow!

Billie Johnson will be speaking at the ADRP Conference in Denver Colorado on April 22nd at 8:30AM. This will be a session you won’t want to miss!

Download the ADRP Conference brochure here.

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The changes facing the blood center industry are significant and are making executive roles more difficult than ever.

You are faced with many challenges, including:

  • Decreasing demand
  • Increased competition
  • Price pressures on every department
  • Patient blood management programs
  • Acquisitions
  • Personnel challenges

Over the last 16 years, Incept has helped over 40 blood centers reduce cost, increase collections, and improve donor relationships. Last year alone, we conducted over 6 million conversations with blood donors and recruited more than 267,552 units, all on a fixed cost-per-donor payment structure. Meaning our clients only pay for a usable unit.

Billie Johnson, Incept’s VP of Client Results, uses her 16 years of experience to develop customized solutions to increase collections and improve donor relationships for each of our clients. Based on her expertise in Donor Center Strategy, we’ve created a monthly webinar series dedicated to helping the blood center industry face new and existing challenges.

We’d like to invite you to a private webinar series hosted by Billie and special guest Dave Walter. On April 16th, they will be sharing industry best practices regarding goals and accountability for tele-recruitment, as well as answering your most pressing questions.

Please register for this webinar by clicking here.

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In today’s society it is not uncommon to have a busy schedule. So oftentimes when you are on the phones you will have to second-attempt a donor when they explain that they are too busy to donate. When a donor who is too busy to donate agrees to schedule a blood donation, it is imperative that you explain the importance of rescheduling in case they are unable to make it to their appointment.

When a donor schedules an appointment, a spot is saved specifically for them and that spot is considered a promise to a patient who is in need of a transfusion. When the donor doesn’t call to say that they are unable to make it to their appointment, donor centers aren’t able to open that spot for other donors who are interested in giving blood; this is now a loss to the donor center and to patients in need. For this reason, you should inform the donor of their options if they are not able to make it to their appointment.

What exactly are the donor’s options? Well, we are able to give them a reschedule number, and they can call that number to be directed to one of our Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) and set up a time that is more convenient for them. If the donor wasn’t able to write down the reschedule number, it’s not a problem. We have the option to send it in a text message reminder that they will get both 24 hours before their donation and 2 hours before their donation. Incept also provides the donor with a reminder call; this is typically done a few days before the donor’s scheduled appointment. It allows the donor the opportunity to reschedule when they get their reminder call.

Letting the donor know how important their blood donation is to a patient in need allows them to understand why they should always reschedule their appointment. When a donor reschedules their appointment, it allows someone else to fill the time slot and it ensures that there will not be a blood shortage in the future.

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What do you do with donors who simply do not answer the phone? Even though you contact them during what is typically the optimum time of day, some donors will not respond to phone calls.

In any 60-day period, if there have been 10 or more unsuccessful attempts to reach a donor, leave a brief, informative message.

Your organization may also consider leaving a pre-recorded message for unresponsive donors.

The automated message should sound like a message from a live person. Using this option can shave 20-30 seconds off each unanswered call.

How do you determine if you are going to leave a message for donors?

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Calling donors in order to get the donation type that is most in need can be done simply if you have the right resources. Your database should be segmented by each donor’s blood type, last three donation types, and gender. If you have the luxury of scripting software and an automatic dialer, the scripter should be able to utilize this data to prompt the dialer to call only qualified donors and to serve an appropriate script to your tele-recruiters.

The logic involved in choosing the donation type may go something like this, depending on current inventory needs:

  • Donors with no previous history of donating either Double Red Cells or Platelets: O-, O+, B-, B+: Recruit for double red cells
    • AB-, AB+, A-: Refer to gender
      • Male: Recruit for platelets
      • Female: Recruit for whole blood
    • A+ or unknown: Recruit for whole blood
  • One of the last three most recent donations was a Double Red Cell donation:
    • AB-, AB+, A-: Refer to gender
      • Male: Recruit for platelets
      • Female: Recruit for double red cells
    • All other blood types: Recruit for double red cells
  • One of the last three most recent donations was a Platelet donation type:
    • O-, O+, B-, B+: Recruit for double red cells
    • All other blood types: Recruit for platelets

Platelet donations take priority over Double Red Cells and Whole Blood except for “O” donors, where Double Red Cells take precedence.

How do you ensure that you’re calling the right donors?

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Howie Mandel said, “People who annoy people are the luckiest people in the world.”

Woody Hayes said, “Paralyze resistance with persistence.”

Howie knows comedy and Woody knows football, but they wouldn’t have done so well in tele-recruiting. Persistence is delicate. With too much persistence, you annoy donors and prompt them to request removal from your database. With too little persistence, your donors fail to donate. In either case donations drop, hospitals have less blood available, and fewer lives are saved.

So, how often should you contact a donor? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Your contact center will need to modify best practices based upon trial and error.

The following guidelines, however, can inform your strategy as you optimize it:

  • Dial a household no more than once every 3 days.
  • If a donor does not want to schedule, or is currently unable to donate, wait at least 21 days before you call again unless a medical condition or recent travel dictates shorter or longer wait times.
  • If a donor cannot donate for at least a month (e.g., is pregnant, away at college, or out of town for an extended time), adjust the callback dates in your database to reflect this.

Once you have established contact frequency rules, ensure that your tele-recruiters adhere to them strictly. Doing so can reduce your blood center’s opt-out rate by as much as 36%, increase the longevity of your call files, and save more lives.

In what other ways do you determine optimal contact frequency?

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Not all blood donor conversations begin as outbound calls. Donors may call your center to schedule new appointments, reschedule existing appointments, check eligibility, ask questions about donating, or ask for directions to donation sites.

Tele-recruiters should always follow the rules of engagement discussed in previous blog posts, but the unplanned nature of these conversations means that a less rigid script will be available. An inbound donor needs someone who is helpful, friendly, knowledgeable, and able to help with the least amount of delay.

Because of this, inbound conversations should be routed to experienced tele-recruiters who are well-trained in every area. Have someone like this available at all times to ensure that inbound calls are answered quickly. Never allow an inbound call to go to voice mail during business hours, review messages at the start of each business day, and reach out to donors who have left messages promptly.

How do you handle inbound donor conversations?

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Here at Incept, we focus on making quality calls.

Making quality calls gives the  Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) a better chance at getting blood donors to make their scheduled appointments to donate blood. Why is that? Well, when calling an individual to donate blood you want to make sure to show compassion, empathy, appreciation, and understanding, all while being polite and pleasant. By having communication skills and showing all of these aspects in a donor recruitment call, a CME is able to strengthen the relationship with a blood donor so that they continue to donate blood on a regular basis. This is what makes a quality call. When you do not use these aspects in donor recruitment calls, donors will not feel as important as they should.

When we are making calls, we don’t want to give the impression that the only thing we are interested in is getting an appointment. Instead, we want to make sure that we are listening to the donor 100% ,as well as acknowledging the donor whenever they make a statement, ask a question, or give an objection. It is also important to go the extra mile to make donors feel appreciated for taking their valuable time to help their communities with blood donations.

In addition, using voice inflection is a very important part of the phone call. This is what helps to grab the donor’s attention and keep them engaged on the phone. If you use a monotone during the phone call and don’t show any excitement, there’s a better chance of the donor getting restless and hanging up. Remember, as a CME, our voice is the only avenue of communication we have to use while making calls, so we want to make the best of it. The speed that you’re talking to the donor is also very important. We want to read at a pace that the donor understands clearly. Not only that, but we only have a couple of seconds to make a good impression to grab the donor’s attention. Quality calls show better results, and this is why quality is so essential here at Incept!

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Established business rules will determine whether or not you should leave a message when recruiting blood donors.

Some organizations may use automated voicemail. If yours does not, keep your message brief and to-the-point. Inform the blood donor about why you are calling, give brief details about any current promotions, and provide a callback number where he or she can self-schedule.

Your marketing strategy will dictate whether you choose to incorporate broadcast voicemail.

Broadcast messages are very low-cost, but also yield very low results, so use them smart and sparingly. They tend to be most effective for supplementing other reminders, alerting donors to location changes, or notifying donors about cancelled drives.

Voice messages should be brief and to-the-point. Inform the donor about why you are calling, give brief details about current promotions, and leave a callback number. Tele-recruiters must use great diction and inflection and must sound personable. Otherwise, it’s better to skip the message and attempt to reach the donor live another time. A poorly delivered message will do more harm than good.

What are your best practices for reaching unresponsive donors?

Photo Credit: http://virtualofficefaq.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/delaware-phone-numbers-with-voice-mail-to-email-service/

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